The way people surf the web has changed over the years. It used to be on a desktop computer with dial-up internet, then speeds increased to broadband allowing for more bandwidth intensive features to websites, and now we add smartphones and tablets to the mix. With the change in technology towards mobile devices, we must make necessary changes to the way we build websites to account for that.
For instance, remember getting your first smartphone and pulling up a website? You had to pinch/zoom on an area of the site just to read anything. But it was cool because you could surf the web on your phone. It was difficult to navigation the site, read text, view images, and anything else. But it worked.
Today consumers are demanding that you have some sort of mobile website. For a while developers were creating a separate mobile version of your website to go along with the desktop version. It was designed to fit the smartphone and was a completely separate site. The site would recognize what type of device you were using and load the corresponding site if you were on a smartphone or desktop. The problem with that was you had 2 different websites to maintain, 2 sets of pages, text, pictures, and updates. It was a pain.
Now we can talk about responsive websites. This is taking the programming to a different level by designing the layout for a smartphone, tablet, and desktop. Typically portrait and landscape designs for both the tablet and smartphones as well.
The site determines the size of your screen or browser window, and formats the design and content to fit your screen, eliminating any need for zooming or missing content. On the webmasters end, it eliminates the need to do things twice or three times. You simply update the main website.
So why do you need a responsive website?
The number of people using a smartphone or tablet is increasing all the time. Here is a graphic from December 2013 of our website showing how many people used a desktop, tablet and smartphone to view our website. While not overwhelming for mobile devices, our site received just shy of 25% of our visitors from a mobile device. We are primarily business to business and most businesses still use desktops but we see that number going up. It has doubled since the same period last year.
When you look at retail websites, the number is greater. Below is a graphic from December 2013 of one of our retail clients and you’ll see over 53% of their visitors were from mobile devices. People spend more time at home on their smartphone or tablet rather than getting up to use the computer. It’s just easier to browse from the couch with a tablet or on the bus with their phone. This number has increased about 85% for them since last year.
If you have a retail business you’re missing the boat if you don’t have a responsive website and your business will suffer as more people trend that direction. If you’re business to business, you’re still missing out and if that number continues it’s trend, close to if not more of your web traffic this year will be on mobile devices and if you don’t have a responsive site, many people will simply skip over you to checkout a site they can actually read on their device.